Friday, February 11, 2011

The Trial

I think it took about 2 hours for all of us jurors to be interviewed. I was only asked one question, which only required a one word answer. After the long interview process we were given a break. I wanted to take that break and run. Just kidding. We had many breaks throughout the day which was nice. I spent most of the time just outside the courtroom, on the benches taking in the view outside the window, catching up on email, and what was going on with the rest of the world. It's pretty desolate out there if you ask me.

Now back to the case. Isn't this exciting? This young man was being charged with telephone harassment. Seriously. The mother of his first child, not his wife, not his girlfriend, not even his ex-wife, served him with child support papers. He got "upset" and called to speak calmly with her about the matter. According to her, he was angry and threatened her life, possessions, and even her mother's life. If you didn't know this already, it is a crime to threaten a person's life over the phone. In fact, the FBI recently arrested a creditor for threatening a person by telling them, over the phone, that he was going to show up at his work if he didn't pay up. What a crazy world we live in, eh?

We had the the pleasure of listening to six different witnesses. Testifying for the DA were two police officers, the victim, and the victim's sister. Their stories seemed to all be quite similar. Basically, the victim served the defendant with child support papers. He got upset and called her about it. Cussed her out. Yelled at her. Threatened to "blow her brains out," come over and break her TV, computer, and steal her clothes. Then, he threatened to send his friends over to her mom's house and break the windows in the house. Yep, I think that sums it up for the victim's side.

The defedant and his current girlfriend testified for the defendant. That was a disaster. First up was the current girlfriend, who also has a child with the defendant. They met on MySpace. After doing some math on this relationship, the defendant probably met her while in jail, then promptly got her pregnant when he was released. She testified that she was in the room when he made the phone call to the victim. He was very "calm" the whole time. He never raised his voice or even cussed at her. He never got angry. He sounds like the perfect gentleman doesn't he?

Now to hear from the defendant. He said he never threatened to harm the victim. He wasn't angry. He was a little upset. As the conversation went on he did raise his voice, but never yelled, and he did cuss during their conversation, but not at her. I can't even repeat the things he said. They were so horrible. How can one be upset and start cussing, but not get anry? Look I'm no angel, but I know that when I get upset and get into an arguement I usually get angry. I don't cuss, but my voice definitely can get loud.

Then, one previous case was brought up to show that this young man was, in fact, serious in his threats. Just one case, although we were told over the course of the day, that this young man had been involved with the law and court system since the age of 17 and has been in and out of jail since then. A few years back, in what seems like a jealous rage, he beat his then girlfriend, the victim, after finding another man in her apartment. Not knowing who the man was he got angry and hit her. Not once, but several times. It happened to be her sister's boyfriend. He didn't care and kept hitting her. Nice, huh? What sicko beats women? Who beats the mother of their child? He shouldn't be hitting anyone. This guy has got some serious issues.

We were also read a bunch of text messages between all the parties involved. If this guy was innocent, why did he text, "dings gon be diffrent from now on. I'm gon change," to the victim. He also told her not to listen to the "cops" because they were lying to her. What reason do the officers have to lie to this vicitm? He deleted all of these messages and denied ever texting the victim. The victim didn't delete the texts. They were still on her phone and she showed them to the police officer. 

We finally got through all the witnesses. Then it's time for closing statements. This is definitely no Law and Order here. These lawyers we not very well spoken. They weren't horrible, but they could definitely use some work. I know that I'm not quick on my toes, but for their job, I think they need to be and they weren't. That might be one reason why they aren't on high profile cases making the big bucks. Whatever it may be it was still intriguing to listen to them.

Now it's time for us jurors to get together in the jury room. We have not been allowed to discuss this case with anyone. Not even other jurors for fear that our thoughts might be swayed one way or another. We were finally able to start talking about this case, though we didn't even have to. We all unanimously voted on a guilty verdict. This was pretty much decided right when we walked in the room. Now what? Do we sign the papers and be done or do we hold out a bit and make them think we have a lot to talk about?

Do you want to hear about my fellow jurors? If you do, the sinner in me will come out again. Okay. Here goes. I can't remember anyone's name, so I'll make them up. First up, is a man I will call Fernando. He is an older gentleman, that is now retired. He's been married for 42 years and has one son. He was like the grandpa of the group. Then there was a man I will call Robert. We made him the foreman of the group since it seemed like he wanted to be in charge. He's actually private investigator. He's divorced, but remarried, and has two kids. Next up is a lady I'll call Marie. She is an older single, hispanic female, that is one tough chick. She seems to have been through a lot. Just recently she attended her grandson's case in court for shaken baby syndrome. The father seems to be a bit violent. The baby survived, but has major issues now. Poor thing. Marie has actually been on a jury eight times, so this was nothing new to her. Then there was single guy, I'll call Brian. He was kind of geeky, but really nice. He works for the Ball Corporation. I asked him about canning jars and at first he gave me this funny look. He then started telling about the company. Ball is actually more known for making aluminum and not canning jars and I can't just walk in to the Ball Corporation building near my house and purchase canning jars at a discounted price. They don't roll that way. They actually outsource the jar making now and only the name is left on their jars. Lastly, was a morbidly obese young lady, who I thought was a lazy lesbian. See? First impressions. After chatting in the jury room, come to find out, I am probably right. She is currently unemployed because both companies she used work for, Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, have gone out of business. She is a night owl that loves to watch TV at night and sleep during the day. Her "partner" gave her sleeping pills the night before, so that she could get to sleep and be awake for jury duty. There you have it. In a nutshell, my fellow jurors. I think they were the most sane out of all the people that were interviewed.

Alright, now it's time to return the verdict to court. We entered the courtroom once again. The judge asked our foreman for the verdict. He said, "guilty." Then the judge asked us all individually if that was our verdict. We all said, "yes" and that's it. We were dismissed to leave and as we walked out of the courtroom we were given beautiful certificates "fit for framing" is what the judge told us on the way out the door. Awesome! That poor young man, who is currently on parole, will probably go back to jail. Who knows? We didn't stay for any sentencing. Since there was not a police officer in the courtroom, the young man will probably return at a later date for sentencing.

All in all, I can thing of a million other things I could have been doing besides jury duty, but then again, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It was a huge eye opening experience and I actually learned quite a bit about the judicial system. I definitely think that the soap operas on TV these days are nothing compared to the drama of these cases. Yikes!

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